How To Identify A Cowboy Builder

Cowboy builders are the bane of the construction industry. Although they only make up a tiny percent of those working in the building trade, they are still out there, and it pays to know how to spot and avoid them.

We have all heard the horror stories about cowboy builders who wreak emotional and financial misery by targeting unsuspecting homeowners by failing to deliver on their promises. This list of tips is designed to help you filter out the dishonest tradesmen and to find yourself a great reputation builder to undertake any building work including kitchen fitting or loft conversions on your property.

How to Identify a Cowboy Builder:

  • Quality builders do not knock on people’s doors and say they are working in the area and have a lorry load of tarmac left over or they have noticed that there is a animal nesting in your chimney stack or any other construction work relevant to your household. Just remember to thank them politely and ask them for a business card and contact details so you could perhaps call them at a later date.
  • Good tradesmen are always busy so If a builder says he can start tomorrow the chances are he has no other work to do. This sounds a bell that he/she is most likely not good enough for the job.
  • A cowboy will probably only have a mobile phone number. No land line means he is not traceable. Good builders may work from home but they will not be frightened to give you their number and address.
  • Always insist on a written receipt on a piece of headed paper. Cowboy builders may suggest that giving them cash will reduce the bill. It will, but it also means there is no proof that they ever did the job.
  • Cowboy builders do have an infuriating habit of trying to confuse you with unnecessary jargon. Make sure your builder explains everything to you in clear terms that you fully understand.

Tips on Finding a Reputable Builder

  • Ask people you trust for recommendations; family, friends, colleagues who have had building work done in their house. Key questions to ask about their builder: Was their timekeeping good? How was quality of work good? Were they polite? Was their language or behaviour in any way intimidating? Was any guarantee given on the work? These questions should help you identify a more trustworthy builder.
  • Searching Google for e.g. builders in Worcester will bring up results of tradesmen in the area. Look out for reviews left by other customers, as well as any photographs of their work.
  • Stay away from random online directories as anyone can apply for a free listing posting unverified information. If you feel that this is a last resource, again make sure to look for companies with a landline telephone number, a website and hopefully even a registered VAT number.